Just outside Nagoya is a small, relaxing town called Tokoname. It’s famous for pottery production and is one of the most important kiln towns in Japan. A short bus ride from Tokoname station are the INAX Museums. This museum complex is part of the LIXIL corporation, which manufactures toilets and other home products in Japan. And toilets are made out of ceramic.
After lunch in the brick oven pizza restaurant, I went next door to the main tile museum. There were displays of tiles from around the world and throughout history. Replicas of blue tiles from Egypt, peg tiles from Mesopotamia, European tiles, painted tiles, raised tiles, and tiles used in religious buildings.
My favourite was the inside of a dome of a mosque. The top of the dome was open, as if the actual dome would be open to the outside sky. The lights were arranged and set to timers to and faders to gradually come on and then fade off from one side to the other side of the inside of the dome. It was meant to simulate the rising and setting of the sun shining through the open hole of the dome – sorry, I couldn’t get a good picture…
There is also a large used-to-be kiln on site. It has been turned into an office/museum with tables and chairs all nestled underneath the curved brick ceiling. You can walk around the kiln as well and see how the wares were fired. There was no one working there for some reason.
The area around the kiln has been converted into a second floor museum, with toilets on display. Again, they are toilets from around the world. Squat toilets from Japan and other Asian countries, seated toilets, and old wooden toilets with chamber pots inside. Some were even painted with colourful designs.
The mini toilet painting is only available by reservation. The toilets are about 10 cm tall and cost ¥1500. After they are fired they will be shipped to your address in Japan. I don’t know if they would ship overseas. You can download a template from the website, so can plan what you want to paint on it before you get there. There were also already painted toilets on display in the windows if you needed some idea of what to paint. They had everything from trees, flowers, mushrooms, monkey, to polka dots. Besides painting mini toilets, you can also make little mosaics and different tile crafts.
The reservation is only for an hour, and even though I had had already planned what I wanted to paint, I made lots of mistakes and had to keep starting again. I only finished about 20% of what I had planned. The last 10 minutes of the reservation are for cleaning your brushes and palettes.
I was expected the fired toilets to be delivered a few days before Christmas, but I was pleased to receive them two weeks early.
They are now happily on display in nowhere other than the toilet.